Martin Mendez Pineda, a 25-year-old Mexican journalist, turned himself over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in El Paso on February 5th, seeking asylum. Almost exactly a year before, Feb. 22, Pineda was reporting on a car accident when he witnessed the police beating the occupants of one of the cars. When the police saw him taking pictures, they proceeded to beat Pineda as well. Pineda detailed the events in a piece for Novadades Acapulco—which led to armed, masked men confronting Pineda at his home and threatening to kill him.
After not being taken seriously by Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights, Reporters Sans Frontiers encouraged him to seek asylum in the United States. “He was very, very scared and he didn’t have anywhere to go other than the U.S.,” Emmanuel Colombié, RSF’s Director for Latin America told the Daily Beast.
Due to Trump’s crackdown on immigration, being even more vigorous than Barack Obama, Pineda might be sent back to Mexico. All parole decisions have to be made by an ICE deputy or the deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol. Pineda’s case went even further. “An ICE officer who I know personally told me that the decision went ‘upstairs’ to Washington,” Carlos Spector, Pineda’s lawyer said. “They had all the evidence of why Martin was in danger, and they still denied him.”
Because Pineda “does not have significant ties to the community,” ICE considers him a flight risk. “He’s a flight risk because he comes into the country asking for help? That makes no sense,” Spector said.